Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bear Goes Fishing

More photos from this trip:

My wife and I decided to take the dog out on the boat on the Des Plaines River for a couple hours this evening. He always wants to get in the boat when I'm working on it in the yard but it's up too high on the trailer for him. Today he got his chance to go for a ride. I've seen a lot of dogs in boats before and one thing that always bothers me about it is when guys keep the dogs out there all day long. That's not good for a dog so we decided we'd try a couple of my normal spots then head back. We didn't know what to expect since this was a first for us too.

When we got the boat in the water and the dog in the boat, the first order of business was to put a life jacket on the dog. He's a great swimmer and loves to swim in the pool so the main reason for the life jacket was in case he did jump in the water, I'd have a handle that I could use to easily grab and lift him back in the boat.

At first he seemed like he didn't know what to make of being out on the water. He stayed next to my wife (who did a awesome job taking pictures - I didn't take any for once) until we got to our first spot. As soon as I started casting, he knew I was up to something that was going to be good so he came up front and waited. I hooked a big fish almost right away and as the two guys on a nearby barge were cheering me on, the fish got away. The dog was wondering what that was all about at this point. I lost a couple more fish and he let me know he was going to get bored with this real quick if I didn't come up with something interesting.

We moved on to another spot and I hooked and lost another fish. Even my wife was wondering what was going on with me because before long it was fish 7 and Bill ZERO.

We moved again and I switched lures. This time when I hooked a fish, it stayed hooked. The first one was a small Largemouth and the dog was very curious about it. It was his first fish. I've seen guys put the fish on the floor of their boats for the dogs to play with, but we decided we'd teach Bear how to be a good fisherdog and treat the fish properly. He sniffed at them and even licked a couple, but he was not allowed to bite or hurt them in any way.

The first time I threw one back, we thought he was going in after it. He was really curious about the fact that there were living creatures in the water. Now he was having fun. He waited patiently by my side as I cast the lure hoping the next cast would produce another fish.

Before long I had a Drum in the boat......

Then a nice Largemouth......

By this time he was really into what I was doing. Both my wife and I were amazed at how he had taken to the boat and fishing so well. I kept checking my locator and before I knew it, the dog was using it to find fish too.

Another few minutes passed and I had another fish in the boat. Bear wasn't as interested in the Smallmouth. "Too small" is what we were sure he was thinking.
Since I caught the first fish, Bear spent almost the entire time right by my side encouraging me to catch another.
Lucky for me I was able to catch a lot of fish in a short period of time.

"Now that's more like it".

We moved back to first spot where I had lost my first big fish. The guys from the barge said "back for that fish, huh" as I moved past them and into position. Bear took his position right next to me once again. He waited patiently as I cast around the area.

And then it happened. I had a good solid strike from what I knew was a good fish. I pulled back on the rod and Bear got excited. I asked my wife to get the net because I knew there was going to be no hoisting this fish up into the boat. She got the net out and by this time I had the fish to the side of the boat. Bear was looking over the side trying to get a look at what was going to be coming to the boat this time. He saw the fish and just looked at me. I know he was thinking "Finally, a big one".

I maneuvered the fish towards my wife and she scooped it up like a pro. I was impressed considering that was the first time she'd ever had to do that and it's not as easy as it looks. Both the dog and I walked around the console and I took the net with the fish in it. It turned out to be a real nice Hybrid Striped Bass.

Bear came back up to supervise. Once the fish was removed from the net, Bear inspected it and gave me a look of approval before the fish was released.

Once the fish was back in the water, I packed up the three rods I was using and we started heading back. My wife spotted several deer and some other wildlife along the banks as we made our way back to the boat ramps.

The water temperature ranged from the upper 70s to 90 at one of the discharges we went by. It was cloudy the entire time and we felt a drop or two of rain, but the sprinkles held off until we got home.

Today was a real treat for me being able to have both my wife and dog join me on the water for a little while. My wife did a great job taking the photos and it was nice for me because I didn't have to worry about handling a fish and a camera at the same time. I'm glad the fishing was so good because maybe the dog will be excited to go with me again in the future.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Heidecke Lake - June 15, 2009

Heidecke Lake - June 15, 2009
Today's Photos:

Expect some wind today.

When I got to the lake about 5 minutes past 7:00, Jim was already on the water and waiting for me. We headed out to our first spot as I've done the last few trips and let the wind try to take us along the bank. This saves gas and wear and tear on the trolling motor. Despite the wind wanting to push us into the bank, Jim did a great job controlling the boat and keeping us in the right zone to target the fish. After a while though it seemed we were throwing at the wrong target because fishing was very slow.

Off we go.

The forecast was for light east winds and mostly sunny conditions but we were blessed with a nice blanket of clouds and a little more wind than was predicted. The fish didn't see it that way because they were few and far between. Eventually I hooked up and brought one to the boat.

A small Striper.

A short time later, Jim hooked up and had a real nice Walleye in front of us but if came unhooked and got away. The birds along the shoreline were busy looking for fish and crayfish and every now and then I'd notice a blackbird with a crayfish he'd managed to pull out of the rocks.

Somebody who caught more fish than us.

We brought a few more fish to the boat and every now and then we'd make a second pass on an area where we had caught or hooked something. Each time it seemed like it was for nothing but at least we tried. We switched lures and caught fish on a few different ones but nothing seemed to really get them going today.

Me with another one.

Jim finally hooked another Walleye and was able to put it in the boat.
Jim with a nice Walleye.

A couple more fish and it was time to go.

As we headed in, I threw a cast towards a point and hooked a good fish. It fought hard but when I got it to the boat it was able to shake the lure. The fish was one of the better Walleye I'd seen at the lake and it would have been great to put it in the boat but it didn't happen. We spent another hour hammering that area trying for another one but struck out.

We did manage to find an interesting looking snake resting in some of the rocks along the cove. He had the right idea.

The water temp was as high as 74 in a couple spots and the level was still up from the previous weeks rains. The air temp hit the upper 70s before we left. We put maybe a dozen fish in the boat including Walleye, Stripers, White Bass, Drum, and a Crappie. No monster fish today (except maybe the one I lost on the way in) but it was still a great day on the water.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Heidecke Lake - June 11, 2009

Rain Rain Rain

Photos from today:

I had planned to fish early Thursday morning so I had the boat hooked up and ready Wednesday night. I woke up to the sound of heavy rain and flash flood warnings. Since fishing in a thunderstorm is not a good idea, I waited until all the red and yellow was gone from the radar screen then headed for Heidecke lake despite the flood warnings.
Raining cats and dogs (and even a few fish).

When I got to the lake it was still raining so I took the cover off the boat and launched anyway. As I was getting the boat ready before pulling up to the ramp, a red winged blackbird landed on the seat right next to me. I went for the camera but when I lifted it to my face, he took off.

A visitor.
It rained the entire time I was on the water. The precipitation ranged from light to moderate and thankfully most of the rain was light.

Soaked Boat.

I headed out onto the lake and ran to a spot where the wind would carry me along the shoreline. I was hoping that with the cloud cover and rain, more fish would be in close.

Rainy day.

After a short time I had my first fish on. It turned out to be a decent Drum and before the day was done I had caught a dozen or so of them. All were good sized fish.

Freshwater Drum.

During the drift I hooked a walleye that was smaller than the ones I had caught last trip, but it got away at the boat. I also hooked a mammoth Striper that made several strong runs despite the fact I got him to the boat a couple times, and when I decided to put the brakes on one of them, he wasn't having any of that and he kept right on going and took my crank bait with him. On the very next cast I caught another nice Drum.

Another Drum Photographed and Released.

Towards the end of the day I caught two real nice Stripers on two consecutive casts. The first one was right around 10 lbs give or take and second one was a few pounds lighter.

Hybrid Striped Bass.

I quickly caught another Drum and then looked at my watch and realized I had better get going. I got a late start and only fished for 3 hours, but as I headed towards the ramps I was really wishing I had more time to spend out there. The water temperature was 68 and the water level seemed way up due to the reported six inches of rain that area received overnight and during the day.

When I got back to the ramps, the same red-winged blackbird was still hanging around. He landed on the seat in my boat one more time as I was getting the cover out of my vehicle. I told him that the next time I fish there he was welcome to go out on the water with me.

Maybe Next Time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Heidecke Lake - June 3, 2009

On the water

I wasn't planning to fish this morning but when I saw the cloud cover and the fact it was windy, I knew those would be perfect conditions for Heidecke Lake so I hooked up the boat to the truck and was on the water by 8:15 am. The red flag was posted meaning it was going to be choppy out there, but it wasn't as bad as I expected.

High winds expected

I think I made 5 casts before I hooked my first fish. It turned out to be a nice Striper and after a short battle, it was in the boat getting its picture taken before being released.

Hybrid Striped Bass

I wound up catching at least 10 more Stripers and all but one were good fish. I also caught a couple of nice Drum and lost the two Smallmouth I hooked. They were small ones anyway and they came unhooked before I got them to the boat.

Later on I started catching Walleye. The first one wasn't that big but then I caught a real good one and decided he'd go in the live well for a later meal. The next one was an absolute monster. He also went in the live well but when I caught the next one I released the big one and just kept the two. That was enough for a good meal.

2 Walleye

The water temperature was 66 degrees which was 3 degrees cooler than the previous trip. I caught everything on the same type of lure but also hooked a couple big fish on another old lure I had that they don't make anymore and lost them. Anything that resembled a minnow should have worked today and that's what I threw at them. It was a great day of fishing and I was off the water before noon.

Out for a stroll

Heidecke Lake - May 29, 2009

Not a cloud in the sky

We started the day by witnessing another guy damage his truck and trailer at the ramps. He backed the trailer in at such an angle that one of the tires went off the side and the trailer got wedged under the dock. when he tried to pull forward, his truck slid sideways and hit the metal railing, then when it moved forward, it tore some of the body off. Hopefully his day got better because that was not a good start.

We put a few fish in the boat, but nothing really worth bragging about. Mike caught the only Smallmouth of the day too. We caught a couple Crappie, a Striper, and a few Drum before we decided to go. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and that usually makes for very tough conditions on this lake.


As I was waiting for Mike to bring the truck, I saw another group with their boat tied off to one of the piers where they keep the rental boats. They were catching some nice Walleye right under their boat on minnows. As I was driving my boat onto the trailer at the last ramp, a couple kids walked past and they both cast towards the shallower part of the cove. Both kids hooked up with big fish but only one of them managed to land theirs. It was a real nice Striper. Mike and I decided we had obviously been fishing the wrong part of the lake.

Freshwater Drum